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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2

Analysis

In this chapter, the Apostle expresses his affectionate solicitude for the Thessalonians, in consequence of which he sent Timothy to ascertain their steadfastness in the faith after having been tested in the severe ordeal of persecution (1–5). He expresses the intense joy, which the cheering accounts regarding them brought back by Timothy had caused him (6–8). He returns thanks to God, the source of these blessings. He prays that it may be granted him to visit them once more, in order to complete the system of religious teaching, which he had commenced amongst them (9–11). He prays, that God may grant them abundant increase of faith and charity, together with the grace of persevering in sanctity, unto the end (12, 13).

Paraphrase

1. On this account, being no longer able to bear up against the desire with which we eagerly longed to see you, and being prevented from visiting you in person, we thought fit to employ the services of our dearest friends for that purpose, and remain alone, deprived of their society, at Athens.

2. And we sent Timothy, our brother, (although very necessary for us), being the minister of God, and our co-operator in preaching the gospel of Christ, to confirm you in the faith, and by his consoling exhortations, to animate you to perseverance.

3. Lest any of you should be moved or terrified by those afflictions which have befallen you; for, you know that, by our call to Christianity, we are destined to undergo suffering.

4. For, when amongst you, we predicted that we would endure the sufferings, which you know have since befallen us.

5. Wherefore, no longer able to bear up against our ardent desire of seeing you, and of knowing all regarding you, we sent to know, how your faith held out; for, we feared, lest Satan, taking occasion from the sufferings you had to undergo, would tempt you, and that thus our labour amongst you would be rendered fruitless.

6. But now, after the return of Timothy, and the cheering account which he has given us of your faith and charity, and of the kind remembrance which you always make of us, and of your ardent desire of seeing us, which we in turn reciprocate:

7. From these joyous tidings we derived such consolation, in the midst of all the perils and tribulations to which we were subjected, as to forget them all, on account of your steadfastness in the faith.

8. For (although we are dying daily), we still are kept alive, and in joy, if you persevere in the faith.

9. For, what thanks can we return to God, for your firmness and stability in the faith, and for the very great joy, which we feel in God’s presence on your account?

10. Constantly and most earnestly do we beseech God to enable us to see you, and thus complete the system of Christian faith, by either disclosing new truths, or more fully explaining those you already know; the suddenness of our departure prevented us from doing so.

11. May God himself, who is our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our journey to you.

12. May the Lord increase the number of the faithful amongst you, and make you advance in mutual charity towards one another, and towards all men, as I abound in charity towards you and all mankind.

13. I also pray, that he may confirm your hearts in exterior edification, so as to be blameless before men, and in true interior sanctity in the sight of God and our Father, and that, on the day on which our Lord Jesus Christ will come, with all his saints, to judge the world. Amen.

Commentary

1. “For which cause” has reference to the state of bereavement in which he was, and his anxious desire to pay them a visit, from which he was prevented by the wiles of Satan (2:18).

“We thought it good.” He employs the plural, “we,” although he is speaking of himself, as appears from verse 5.

2. “The minister of God” to which the Greek adds, (and our fellow-labourer), “in the gospel of Christ.” “For your faith.” In Greek, concerning your faith.

3. “In these tribulations,” are understood by some of the Apostle’s own sufferings. “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name sake” (Acts 9); by others, more probably, of the sufferings of the Macedonians, as these would be more apt to stagger their faith. “By many tribulations we must all enter the kingdom of God.”—(Acts, 14) “And all who will live piously in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution.”—(2 Tim. 3:12).

“We are appointed.” In Greek, κείμεθα, we lie, which probably conveys a military allusion to sentinels at their posts.

4. In this verse, reference is made to the Apostle’s own sufferings also. The greater the glory destined for us, the greater must our sufferings be. Hence, Apostolic men suffer more than others. The momentary and light sufferings of the present life will hereafter work in us an eternal weight of glory.

5. “Wherefore I also,” &c. He now employs the singular number, to express the same thing for which he already had employed the plural; verses 3, 4, being parenthetical, he resumes the subject, of which he had been treating in verses 1, 2.

6. “Related.” In Greek, evangelized, conveyed good news.

7. The effect of the good news conveyed to him by Timothy was, “in all necessity,” i.e., perils and danger, and in “all tribulation,” to forget all his sufferings on account of the abundance of the consolation which their faith afforded him.

8. Although the Apostle was daily in the midst of the perils of death (1 Cor. 15); still, he valued these perils as nought, and he felt the joy of a man perfectly secure, as long as his converts persevered. So closely did he connect his own welfare, nay, his life, with their perseverance, that without it, he would not value existence.

9. “In all the joy,” i.e., the exceeding great joy. The second effect which the good news brought by Timothy had on him was to make him render God thanks for it.

10. “And may accomplish those things that are wanting to your faith.” There were a good many points which the Apostle did not, in all probability, propound to them, or, at least, fully explain, in consequence of being obliged to leave suddenly, and or this sudden departure he would make up, by visiting them again. He might refer to the article of the resurrection of the dead, and of the day of judgment, regarding which he afterwards instructs them more fully. The Greek word for “accomplish,” καταρτισα, conveys the idea of filling up the joints, wanting in a human body. Hence, he refers to a body or system of faith.

11. It is uncertain whether he went to them or not. It is more probable, however, that he did, as appears from the 20th chapter of the Acts, in which account is given of his second journey to Macedonia.

12. “And may the Lord multiply you,” i.e., increase your number, so that a greater number would embrace the faith. In Greek, may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love.

13. “Without blame,” irreprehensible and free from all complaint before men, and “in holiness before God and our Father,” i.e., true and real holiness, “at the coming,” &c., and this with constancy and perseverance, to the end. “Amen” is not in the Greek. It is, however, found in several ancient versions, and in some of the chief manuscripts.








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